Anna Espínola Lynn is an art historian interested in how images shape historical and contemporary constructs of identity and belonging in the Spanish-speaking world. She completed her BA in art history at Barnard College in 2017 before earning an MSt in art history from the University of Oxford in 2018. In 2019, Anna began her doctorate in art history at Oxford under the supervision of Gervase Rosser and Giuseppe Marcocci. Her transdisciplinary thesis examines how images of the Virgin Mary shaped constructs of purity in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain and Mexico. Since 2019, Anna has worked part-time assisting the art advisor Sarah Stein-Sapir. Anna joined the JO-HS team as NY Gallery Manager in August 2023. 

AF: Hi Anna! We are so excited to chat with you today. To get us started, we want to know more about your upbringing. Where did you grow up and what are the arts communities like there? 

AE: I’m delighted to be here! Thanks for your interest and taking the time to chat.

I was raised in Somerville, MA, a city on the outskirts of Boston. My parents are both ESL teachers with a deep appreciation for the visual arts. They brought me to museums from a young age, later empowering me to visit them on my own. Most significantly, my parents took my thoughts about art seriously, engaging me in conversations that expanded my awareness of history and helped me gain confidence in my voice. 

As a child I had the privilege of spending summers in Spain with extended family. Every summer my father would bring my cousins, my brother and me to museums and churches around Catalunya and Andalucía to see romanesque frescoes, gothic chapels, and the occasional Gaudí construction. These early experiences impressed on me art’s power to shape understandings of history and its relationship to the present.

AF: Did you always know you wanted to work in the arts? 

AE: I have always loved looking at, talking about, and thinking through visual art. Still, there have been periods when a career in the arts did not seem feasible. In high school and college, I considered careers that would provide more financial stability and traditional tracks for career advancement. Ultimately, I found myself drawn back to studying art history and working in the art world. When I opted to major in art history in college, and then to pursue a master’s and a doctorate in the field, I decided to follow my nose. Crucially, I was in a position to make those decisions because I did not have dependents or significant debt. Now, I feel grateful I get to wake up every morning and engage with something that I love and feel challenged by.

AF: What was your first ever job? What is an important lesson from it that has carried with you? 

AE: At 16 I worked as a clerk at a small insurance agency in Somerville. The job mostly entailed answering the phone, managing mail, and filing paperwork. I hacked my adolescent fear of phone calls by developing basic scripts and workflows for answering the phone. This taught me that building systems helped me maintain a professional veneer, which in turn helped clients and me feel confident and at ease.

AF: You are the Gallery Manager of the new JO-HS New York location! Tell us about your role and the gallery. 

AE: JO-HS is a contemporary art gallery dedicated to nurturing the practices of emerging artists through our residency and exhibition program. We connect our artists with collectors and curators and work to place artworks in museums and other art institutions. Opened in 2021, JO-HS’s Mexico City location hosts our residency program; we have now hosted over 25 artists!

Since May 2023, JO-HS has hosted three solo exhibitions in our temporary space in Tribeca featuring paintings by Melissa Ríos, Jack Mernin, and Floria González. We are now expanding into a larger permanent space in Tribeca set to open in late spring. We are so excited to share more details about this new space and our NY program in the coming months!

As JO-HS is in a transitional period, the gallery manager role is especially dynamic and responsive to the needs of the day. I work on every aspect of exhibition preparation, from studio visits with the artist, to drafting exhibition literature, to liaising with PR, to managing shipping and installation, to the mechanics of an exhibition opening. Together with the rest of the JO-HS team, I help to manage the gallery website, ArtLogic, and social media. I particularly enjoy working closely with artists to find the language they feel best frames their practice to new audiences.

AF: We can’t wait to see how the future program unfolds! Can you give us something to look forward to? 

AE: JO-HS is presenting three shows in Mexico City this February. For Zona MACO, JO-HS will host a booth with new paintings by Melissa Ríos. Concurrent with Zona MACO, a group show at an off-site location in Condesa, hosted by Projet Moné, will feature new paintings by Floria González and her friend and collaborator Sandra Leal. That same week, JO-HS will open Encounters, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Emil Sands curated by Georgina Pounds. 

AF: What does an average workday look like for you?

AE: My work varies day-to-day, but generally I start the morning following up on emails with artists, collectors, and the JO-HS team. I’ll then go into the gallery and execute any tasks related to packing or shipping. Elisabeth and I will meet at the gallery and update each other on various projects and goals. In the afternoon, I might jump on a call with an artist to find the language that best frames their practice to their desired audience for an upcoming show. In the late afternoon I focus on researching and writing supplemental literature for exhibitions, fairs, and our clients. Whenever I can I’ll attend gallery openings, artist’s talk, or museum events to learn more about what artists, curators, and collectors are thinking about. 

AF: Who are some emerging artists that you are excited about right now? Who should people keep an eye on?  

AE: Emil Sands is a figurative painter whose work makes me think about masculinity, perceptions of self and others, and subject formation in a way I really love. Melissa Ríos is a painter who works in the fertile space between the abstract and figurative. To me, her surreal paintings exist in some liminal space where unconscious and conscious worlds muddle together. Floria González is the first artist I worked with at JO-HS for her debut solo show in New York with the gallery. She is an extraordinarily creative and dynamic painter who finds inspiration across media and centuries. 

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about Lucia Hierro’s conceptual work. Her attention to access and audience is reflected in the breadth of her practice. While her large soft sculptures have been acquired by the Guggenheim and Perez Museum, a series of magnets in conversation with these larger sculptures can be collected by a much larger audience. I admire Hierro’s commitments to community and the praxis of conceptual art.

AF: What is one of the strangest things to happen to you while on the job? 

AE: While seeking sturdy cardboard on Canal Street, I saw a big pile of boxes broken down for recycling inside of a store. I walked in to find it was a CCTV camera store, and was unnerved by my own image projected many times over on a wall of screens. But the owner was incredibly kind and generously offered me some cardboard boxes he was preparing to recycle. 

AF: Do you have any personal goals for this year? 

AE: Do more yoga.

AF: As you know, Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world? 

AE: The wonderful art advisor Sarah Stein-Sapir offered some great advice several years ago. She advised showing kindness and respect to every person you meet, whether they are an intern or a gallery director, a long-term client or a first-time visitor. The art world is small, so lead with kindness. 

AF: How do you think the art world can become more transparent? 

AE: My art historian friends and colleagues generally agree that the resources used to produce and exhibit a work of art are important aspects of a work’s historical significance. Artists have been advocating for more transparency surrounding institutional financing for decades, from articulating institutional critiques in the 90s (i.e. Fred Wilson’s Mining the Museum, 1994), or organizing to de-name galleries, libraries, and museums in the 21st century (i.e. Nan Goldin’s work with P.A.I.N.)

Increased transparency about financing in the art world might also make careers in art more accessible and inclusive. Publications like ArtFrankly that ask early career professionals about their experiences and the viability of art careers are elping to create a more transparent art world. So, thank you for the work you’re doing!

AF: Well thank you, Anna, for participating in Frank Talks, it has been a delight to chat with you! To finish off, we want to ask you our classic final question: If you could own work by 5 different artists/craftspeople, who would be in your collection? 

AE: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk–it’s been a pleasure!

I loved thinking about this question. My dream public collection would include: the Immaculate Conception made by El Greco for the Chapel of Oballe in Toledo; an edition of Albrecht Dürer’s engraving Melancholia I; a photograph by Barkley Hendricks, preferably one featuring a mirror; a photograph from Graciela Iturbide’s series on death, preferably a contact sheet work; and an edition of Marcel Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-valise.

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